Flying at Night
after Art Smith and Michael Martone
Art started from behind, on the mortgage
money from his parents’ home,
sky-bound for pleasure; not business,
not profit. It had been done before,
again and again — commercial flights
would pop up four years later — and, to most,
there was little left to prove. Flight was science,
a hypothesis put to test and proven,
improved upon and proven again;
but, obviously, there’s a difference
between art and science. Or, rather,
between whimsy and industry. Art
sought to play in, not to conquer,
to fly as Fosbury later would. An exaltation,
a submission. His first takeoff crashed
and he rebuilt anew, in service of wonder.
Soon, impassioned, he flew words, painted
flare smoke into language, just to watch it
dissipate. Risky twirls and twists,
names and messages, love letters
to breathlessness. Famously, he loved
to fly at night, where he shone ephemeral
against the stars, those lights which feel to us
like permanence. A Fort Wayne man as Icarus;
his flight, the playful art of challenging our Gods.
There is a moment in all of our constructions
where we have nothing to our name
but bits and pieces; debt and junk
and the empty space between two cliffs.
Having drained all the fuel we have
to reach this point, it’s daunting, raw,
to begin from what feels like nothing;
we are new again, fresh legs unprotected,
so near to falling; desperate. Sky’s blue face
a far-off destination; motor, wheels. Gritty underside
of earnest calculation; hope and fear; what’s left
of that initial wonder; but — as of yet — no plane.
The House On Robin Drive
Midmorning, and I remember
sunlight, faded cotton curtains
high above me. I can’t be sure,
but I think there was baby blue
in the kitchen somewhere: cabinets,
wallpaper, maybe curtains. Baby
isn’t far, though, from robin’s egg;
I can’t decide what’s memory
and what I’ve filled in around it.
What I do see clearly is the light,
or at least the shade of it: delicate,
tentative — early enough in the day
that the world’s still inhaling. Still shaky.
From so far below the counter,
what I sense is largeness, or a feeling
I would now construe as peace,
a wordless knowledge that my fate
is held, angelic. Like I’m seeing God.
The radio on the countertop is playing,
and I want it to have been music,
but it could just as easily be news
or NPR. I want to hear more clearly,
to see the world taking shape above me
in a sharper focus; I’m at most two,
and there’s so much yet to come.
On tiptoes, I reach the knob, turn it one way,
then the other: quiet, then overwhelming noise.
Gustav Parker Hibbett is a Black poet, essayist, and MFA dropout. Originally from New Mexico, they are currently pursuing a PhD at Trinity College Dublin. They are a 2022 Djanikian Scholars Semifinalist and a 32 Poems Featured Emerging Poet, and their most recent work appears or is forthcoming in Banshee, Pigeon Pages, River Heron Review, Adroit, Belfield Literary Review, and Icarus. You can also find them on Twitter (@gustav_parker) and Instagram (@gustavparker).